Coach Robbie Fleck will be sure to read his team the riot act at Monday’s video session as his team committed a number of handling errors, while poor execution scuppered their attacking game.
The Stormers looked like they had come out for a Sunday afternoon game in the park rather than a Super Rugby showdown with the Reds, such was their lack of application on the day.
Their laissez-faire attitude throughout the 80 minutes nearly led to their demise as the Reds showed them how to construct attacking plays with precision passing, good offloading skills and by exploiting space around the fringes at the breakdowns.
There were too many holes in the Stormers’ defence at close quarters, with the pick-and-go proving highly effective for the Brisbane outfit.
Losing captain and tighthead prop Frans Malherbe to flu before kickoff didn’t help matters, as suddenly Damian de Allende was thrust into a captaincy role. Perhaps it would’ve been wiser for No 8 Nizaam Carr – who has had previous leadership experiences for the WP Currie Cup team – to be the leader on the day.
De Allende’s game appeared to be affected by the extra responsibility as he had one of his worst ever outings in Super Rugby. He knocked the ball on, lacked that bite with ball-in-hand and his wasn’t his usual dominant self on defence. One embarrassing moment came when he was handed off by strong-running Reds No 13 Samu Kerevi, which led to left wing Eto Nabuli’s touchdown in the corner.
The Springbok midfielder was involved in conceding another Reds try when his kick was charged-down near the halfway line, and Reds No 8 Curtis Browning handed off De Allende before offloading to fullback Karmichael Hunt for the Aussies’ second try.
Fullback Cheslin Kolbe – who has played in almost every minute of the season so far – wasn’t his usual sharp self either as he made several uncharacteristic mistakes.
But it wasn’t all bad from the Stormers, and Fleck will take great solace from the fact that his team still scored four tries and win by 18 points when playing well below their potential.
There were some thrilling passages of play in the lead-up to some of the tries, with none more so than in the build-up to Nic Groom’s try, when Pieter-Steph du Toit – the Stormers’ best player on the day – sparked the move with a superb offload, with Siya Kolisi and Bongi Mbonambi combining before Groom took a quick tap penalty to dot down.
Flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis was also all over the field, and made one terrific break up the middle as he was one of the few Stormers players to enhance his reputation on the day.
Right at the end, replacement halfback Louis Schreuder also showed some good initiative as he darted through the Reds defence, with tighthead prop Koch crashing over to inflate the score.
Replacement flyhalf Brandon Thomson also displayed good temperament when he came on for Jean-Luc du Plessis in the last quarter, and booted over three crucial penalties to stretch the Stormers’ lead.
Stormers – Tries: Kobus van Wyk, Leolin Zas, Nic Groom, Vincent Koch. Conversions: Jean-Luc du Plessis (3), Brandon Thomson (1). Penalties: Du Plessis (1), Thomson (3).
Reds – Tries: Liam Gill, Karmichael Hunt, Eto Nabuli. Conversions: Jake McIntyre (2). Penalty: McIntyre (1).
Original source: Stormers grind it out over Reds